The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Elaine Pascale
At twenty feet below the surface, she became visible.
Visible in the sense that I could make out a very vague form.
I knew what I was looking for, so my mind filled in the dark shadow as I slowly continued to descend.
I had thirty-five minutes of air left. Plenty of time to grab her and resurface. I had lost sight of my partner in the murky water, but bubbles would occasionally mingle with my own, alerting me that I was not alone, that he was most likely behind me, tucked into a blind spot created by my helmet.
We needed to reach her together. Recovery missions carry a terrible physical and mental weight.
At twenty-three feet below I began to tremble. I was far away from the sun’s rays and my neoprene suit did little to protect me from the wintry water.
I would need to get her and resurface before hyperthermia set in. The bubbles had grown denser: my partner was closing in. I would need his help to lift her onto the boat.
At twenty-eight feet my diligent flashlight had all the power of a flickering candle. I lost contact with the boat, but the comforting bubbles that played in my peripheral vision reminded me that I was not alone.
At thirty feet I could see her more distinctly. Based on the time of her disappearance, we knew she would no longer be on the bottom and that she would be slowly making her way to the surface. I noticed she was fully intact. She looked good.
For a corpse.
At thirty-five feet I realized that the bubbles were coming from her. They seemed to hum in the still water. Did gas bubbles do that? I had never seen that before. In the ocean’s depths, there was much that had not been seen before.
At forty feet I reached out for her wrist. I had enough air to ascend slowly and safely. Even through my gloves, I could feel that she was not cold.
In fact, she was hot. Very hot.
At sixty feet, I lay stretched on the bottom of the ocean. I am a mystery for my partner and the boat that had delivered me to the mission. I am food for crabs and small fish. And her. Her bubbles enter my helmet, telling me I will soon grow warm and whole, too.
Fiction © Copyright Elaine Pascale
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Elaine Pascale:
The Blood Lights
They victimize all…
Jezzie Mitchell is in anguish; with her brother’s murder still on her mind, she’s noticed strange behavior among the girls in the residential treatment center where she works. Is there a connection between the contagion on Cape Cod and the deadly Bahamas vacation that changed her life?
Jezzie reaches out to former lover Lou Collins, a scholar who has chased proof of the lights for decades. Will he be able to solve the mystery of the lights in time?
Intensely competitive, reporter Bridgette Collins knows the lights are a way to secure fame in her career. And while it’ll put the final nail into the coffin of her ex-husband’s career, she vows to know the secrets of the lights. Even if it means unleashing a world-wide epidemic…
You picked a very personal horror of my own. I am still trying to breathe. Thanks for a good one!
I particularly enjoyed the pacing of the story – the measured beats of the depth soundings – each one taking us deeper into tension and peril – nice!